Remembering our loss

By Josh Albrecht

This Saturday marks an unfortunate anniversary for NIU. It was a year ago when the NIU community lost three lives in one day – Jose Veloz Jr., Brian White and Nicole Murawski.

Their deaths were all unrelated, but all affected the entire NIU campus and since that day, students and community members alike have voiced their concerns over safety at NIU and in


And now another tragedy has struck the NIU community. Daniel Mokrzycki died this past weekend after he was struck by a semi while crossing Route 38.

The one year anniversary is now all too fresh in our minds.

The latest tragedy, however, should add fuel to the fire which began immediately following the tragedies of last year concerning the issue of campus safety — particularly pedestrian safety.

The death of Nicole prompted an immediate response from the community in regards to Annie Glidden Road. The Annie Glidden Task Force was formed and meetings were held to find the solution to help make it a safer road to cross.

NIU and DeKalb came together and an array of solutions were covered including an underpass or overpass, barriers to funnel pedestrian traffic to crosswalks, stop lights and even closing down Stadium Drive to cars.

But most importantly, a quick resolution was hoped for, yet at this point Annie Glidden Road looks the same.

True, last week plans for a temporary stoplight at the intersection of Annie Glidden and Stadium Drive was approved, which is great for the overall plan of improving pedestrian safety, but better solutions still need to be discussed for the future.

More importantly, we must remember that the accident that prompted all of this, the accident that took Nicole’s life, happened further north on Annie Glidden near Crane Drive.

On Oct. 25 last year, the Star gathered from our archives and from DeKalb police the number of pedestrian versus automobile accidents on Annie Glidden, with the results showing that of the 19 accidents reported since 1995, 16 of them have occurred north of the Stadium Drive intersection.

I am not saying that the stoplight, or another solution, is not needed at the Stadium Drive intersection, because that is a dangerous and highly traveled intersection.

What I am saying is that the majority of accidents on Annie Glidden don’t occur at this intersection; most of them, eight, occurred between Locust Street and Crane Drive, and it is near this area where last year’s tragedy took place.

The stoplight at Stadium Drive is a step in the right direction, but as far as that being a permanent solution, I can’t agree. The stoplight would be of great value during peak pedestrian times but would only create traffic congestion during other times of the day. Plus, the traffic on Stadium Drive is close to nothing when school is not in session.

Of course, we will see how my theory pans out when the temporary lights are installed.

So, the logical question is, “what then?”

An underpass/overpass isn’t going to cut it. They are far too expensive, and we all know that people wouldn’t be inclined to use an overpass because it’s too much work, and an underpass is way too dangerous at night.

The suggestion of funneling pedestrians to crosswalks also is good in theory, but we would have one ugly road if there were fences all along it, and to make it look nice also would likely cost too much.

Lowering the speed limit to 30 mph is a reasonable solution that could help things out north of Crane Drive, but anything lower than 30 would only create a lot of angry people.

Thus, I suggest two solutions to the problem. The first is highly feasible, the second likely would not be feasible because of money.

The first solution is simple. At the Stadium Drive, the Crane Drive and the Varsity Boulevard intersections, we create pedestrian crosswalks. These crosswalks have flashers that are built into the road along the painted stripes. Crosswalk signs with flashing yellow lights are put at the side of the road, as well.

When a student presses a button on the crosswalk sign, the lights flash to alert drivers that they must stop for a pedestrian who is walking across the road. That way, when there are no pedestrians the traffic is not interrupted (since this is one of DeKalb’s main roads), and the crosswalks will have an audible timer alerting pedestrians to how much time they have to cross the street.

I like this plan, and I have seen it work in Athens, Georgia, at the University of Georgia and in Dublin, Ireland.

The other plan, the expensive one and much larger in scale and scope and is honestly only a pipedream, is the closing down of Annie Glidden Road from Stadium Drive to Crane Drive. The area would be converted into park space or made into more open space for future academic buildings, and then students wouldn’t have to cross Annie Glidden to get to the rest of the campus.

Therefore, the Annie Glidden issue is not going anywhere and must be tackled fully within the next year. And officials on the Annie Glidden Task Force must stick with one plan and leave it at that because we don’t want another Hillcrest Drive on our hands. As in, too many solutions can cause more problems and headaches.

And even more importantly, we can’t forget why we are considering these safety measures to begin with.